New solicitations for Carbine and Light Machine Gun

I’m getting ready to head out for the SHOT Show, which begins Thursday in Las Vegas, but Daniel Watters of The Gun Zone tipped me off to this (many thanks!) and I can’t help but post it for MO readers.

A pair of new solicitations for 5.56mm weapons, a carbine and an LMG, have been issued. The carbine differs from the OICW Increment I (carbine variant) specs in the following areas:

  • Reliability
    • OICW1 Carbine: 18,000 mean rounds between essential function failure (Class III)
    • New Carbine: 3800 mean rounds between essential function failure (Class III)
    • OICW1 Carbine: 2300 mean rounds between essential function failure (Class I and II combined)
    • New Carbine: 600 mean rounds between essential function failure (Class I and II combined)
  • Barrel Life:
    • OICW1 Carbine: 15,000 rounds minimum
    • New Carbine: 10,000 rounds minimum
  • Accuracy:
    • OICW1 Carbine: >60% at 150m
    • New Carbine: 50% at 300m
  • Fire Rate without degrading accuracy:
    • OICW1 Carbine: Minimum 45 rounds/minute
    • New Carbine: Minimum 45 rounds/minute
  • Additional New Carbine requirements:
    • Mil-Std-1913 (Picatinny-style) rails incorporated into the weapon
    • Compatibility with the M203 grenade launcher
    • Weight of no more 6.5 pounds unloaded

Murdoc’s no expert, but not only does this new requirement look like a major step back from the earlier request, but it looks a lot like the M4 SOPMOD.

The biggest difference, of course, between this solicitation and the earlier is the fact that this is calling for a stand-alone carbine, not a modular weapon system sharing 80% parts commonality with a special compact version and a designated marksman version.

Another big difference is that the light machine gun is for a separate stand-alone model, not a variant of the baseline weapon sharing 50% part commonality. Here are the differences between the OICW1 LMG and the New LMG:

  • Reliability
    • OICW1 LMG: 18,000 mean rounds between essential function failure (Class III)
    • New LMG: 16,000 mean rounds between essential function failure (Class III)
    • OICW1 LMG: 1900 mean rounds between essential function failure (Class I and II combined)
    • New LMG: 1600 mean rounds between essential function failure (Class I and II combined)
  • Barrel life:
    • OICW1 LMG: 15,000 rounds minimum
    • New LMG: 15,000 rounds
  • Accuracy:
    • OICW1 LMG: 40% at 600m
    • New LMG: Not specified
  • Fire Rate without degrading accuracy:
    • OICW1 LMG : 72 rounds/minute
    • New LMG: Not specified

Now, of course, these are all minimum requirements and manufacturers are free to surpass them. Murdoc would hope that those doing so would get special consideration, all else being equal. And this is quite possibly a stop-gap request to tide things over until the new OICW requirements are finalized and that program can move ahead.

But this all looks a bit fishy. Thoughts? (I plan to post a bit more later as time allows.)


  1. So what is up with the SCAR, developed by FNH depicted in the current edition of Popular Mechanics. That article said it would be deployed to Special Ops by spring 06, in both light and heavy (5.56 and 7.63) Any vibes on that?

  2. Anyone know if HK USA is putting the XM8 back into the race? If not, why not? Doesn’t it meet (or exceed) all criteria? SCAR-L will probably be put in, but also won’t the M4 SOPMOD – meets the criteria, doesn’t it? Anyone have a line on any of the other contenders?

  3. They probably ‘dumbed down’ the requirements so that AR15 based weapons could compete with the others fielded…of course thier only hope is to come in cheaper too…cause if its the same price, then whats the point of going with something less reliable.

  4. Lower requirements aren’t going to stop the XM8 from competing- it does open the door to a really big rifle competition. If the XM8 Carbine was really all that then it should offer some pretty serious competition to whoever else is going to enter. It will be quite exciting to see who enters- my guess is just about every major armament maker since almost everybody as a carbine type weapon they offer, even ruger that might fit the bill. Probably Colt, FN, H&K, Steyr, at a minimum (though steyr is trouble for selling 50-cal snipers to the Iranians). The lmg requirment will likely have less as that is tougher. The thing is its ‘non developmental’, and they have have samples pretty quick. The Ares Shrike, the Minimi, the Negev, the ones from CETME, and H&K are the main 5.56mm ones I know of.

  5. But this all looks a bit fishy. I don’t get it. How is this fishy? Fishy how? Why would loosening up the requirements be considered sinister? James

  6. Seeing as no weapon meets the Army’s current standards, maybe these new requirements will allow a new weapon to be accepted sooner… How does the M4 stack up against these requirements? Or the M249?

  7. From the Feb 2006 Popular Mechanics, Page 24. ‘In 2004, SOCOM which oversees the Navy, SEALS, Green Berets and other special operation forces, put out an open call for a weapon to replace the M16 and it’s compact variant the M4 carbine. The winning design for the Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle or SCAR, is a reliable and accurate modular rifle that can be rapidly reconfigured in the field. A compact, close-quarters barrel can be swapped for a long-range sniper barrel in just 2 minutes with minimal tools. The gun’s maker FNH, expects both the 5.56mm SCAR-Light (pictured above … in the article …) and the more powerful 7.62mm SCAR-Heavy to be delivered to units by late spring.’ Above that it mentions the splitting of the XM-29 into the XM-8 and the XM-25. ‘The XM-8 is currently being ‘re-evlauated’- another term for shelved – based on lessons from Afganistan and Iraq’

  8. Argh! 3800 rounds for ‘Class III malfunctions (i.e., for non-operator correctable malfunctions which cause the loss of essential functionality)’?? Jesus… So not only are they goig to stay with 5.56, but they have completely dummbed down the specs to basically get more of what they have. Why not just buy more freakin M4’s? Amazing. Ench

  9. For those who are wondering why we are soliciting for a POS carbine- write to Senator Dodd. Good men are going to get killed so senator Dodd can protect a few jobs.

  10. SCAR-L is 0.5 kg too heavy. What’s fishy is that the only specification besides the ones for reliability is the weight-6.5 lbs (3.0 kg) SCAR-L weighs 3.5 kg RobArm XCR weighs 7.5 lbs Surprise, surprise, the XM8 weighs 2.7 kgs. The M4 wieghs 2.52 kgs. But what’s the point of having a competition for a weapon you’re already buying. Plus, there’s a very short suspense-30 days after the RFP is officially issued-to submit 7 test guns. And that RFP is expected next month. I’d say the Army is trying to sneak in the XM8 by having a competition that only it can win.

  11. The XM8 is going to compete, but I would be wary of drawing to many comparisons to the old prototypes. It did not have Mil 1913 rails so that would have to be added, though it would not have to have the scope/lasers mount or worry about having to be re-configured for other types. You mention the SiG 552 on your sight, but personally I think that is going to be a bit heavy- though I think your mention of the HK 416 is dead on. Some things I found interesting was that the LMG had not specified weight, and that a ‘regular barrel and short barrel ‘ were suggested. One thing that does seem ambigious is which versions of the M203 they are talking about, as they do not all mount the same way. The live-fire tests sounds very exciting though, im sure those will be closely watched. Whoever gets accepted to the competition will have a real chance to strut there stuff. ‘up to 200,000 total weapon systems’ for the carbine- at say 500-1000 dollar a piece that works out to up to 100-200 million dollars. Thats some pretty serious cash potential, not mention the prestige of winning this (other sales, civilian sales). On a side not I looked up what a E-type silhouette was..

  12. The Sig 552 makes the weight, but has an extremely short (9′) barrel. Longer barreled versions don’t meet the standard. An E-type is the standard human torso silouette target, roughly 3′ tall and 18′ wide.

  13. I’d add that proposals of this type are normally very spcific as far as dimensions, mag capacity, etc. Look as SOCOM’s new pistol proposal as an example.

  14. On the SIG- the 9 – inch barrel you pointed out is what concerned me as that may not be long enough to meat the requirements. I would be happy to see it compete though, as that is certainly a very solid rifle line. I agree this is a very open contract as far as specifications goes- in a way it makes it more exciting to see what will be entered since it is so open. That weight requirment is not for everbody though, as you point out. Even the normal G36 is to heavy, with only the G46C being light enough.

  15. On the reliablity issue, delayed blowback systems like the French FAMAS have it hands down over gas-operated ones. Of course, I don’t know if ‘essential’ reliability means that things like firing sustained bursts don’t count (that melts the plastic furniture on the Australian variant of the Steyr, for instance). Likewise, having a fallback iron sight might not count, and so on – all highly material in field conditions. Of course, the FAMAS ends up heavier, so it still ends up varying according to the underlying trade-offs that went into framing the specifications – assuming that those that did so knew what they were doing (the Beeching decision on British rifles didn’t, back in the ’50s, but they were willingly carrying out a political agenda).

  16. Does Tacom or the department of defense even know what company will be developing the new weapon system, or is it to early to tell?

  17. Hey, is there anything on it about plastic cased or High Ignition Temperature Propellant caseless ammunition?

  18. Na, they are both for 5.56mm nato ball. There was a program that had that in it though, but im not sure if its still running.

  19. The quoted XM8 weight is wrong. While they were supposed to eventually trim the weight down to 5.7lbs, the XM8 instead ballooned to 7.5lbs. (Check the HK brochure that General Dynamics posted on their site when they announced their joint venture for the XM8.)

  20. Personally, I think we should adopt the FN SCAR… Seems to hold the most promise out of all the current options. Once we get to using both the 5.56 and the 7.62 I am willing to bet the vast majority of the military will want nothing but the 7.62 version. I hate having to buzz 8 rounds into an asshole charging at me for him to just fall down, let alone be able to still effectivly fire at me.